On Saturday, June 12, the Group of Seven (G7) countries unveiled their plans for a major infrastructure program for low-income countries. This program, dubbed the ‘Building a Better World’ (B3W) initiative, is clearly designed as a West-aligned alternative to Beijing’s Belt and Road (BRI) infrastructure initiative, which some commentators see it as a vehicle for the expansion of Communist China. Reports indicate that the G7 – the United States, Canada, Britain, Germany, Italy, France and Japan, and its allies will use the B3W to reduce the $ 40 trillion in infrastructure needed by developing countries by 2035. This will happen through the mobilization of private funds. sector capital in various fields.
G7 leaders have made it clear that the B3W initiative is more than just competition with China’s already existing initiative. “[T]it’s not just about confronting or confronting China, “said a senior official in the Biden administration, continuing that” so far we have not come up with a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards and the way we do business ”. In particular, officials highlighted that the B3W will adapt to international environmental and labor standards as a major distinction between it and the BRI. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose nation has huge investments in China, called B3W an “important initiative” that was needed across Africa. “…[I]It is the ambition of the G7 to have a positive agenda for a certain number of countries… which are still lagging behind… I welcome this, ”she declared.
However, Beijing officials were quick to criticize the G7. “[T]he days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone, ”said a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in London. “[W]e still believe… that world affairs should be treated in consultation by all countries. Such a statement is generally welcome, but a closer analysis of China’s Belt and Road Initiative reveals that it is a political posture rather than the actual practice of the Chinese government. Critics of the Belt and Road initiative point to a serious imbalance of power – in particular, predatory lending practices, a lack of transparency, a high risk of debt distress – as one of the major problems of the government. system. According to an American official, the B3W initiative aims to offer a positive alternative that does not follow the same “coercive approach”. Indeed, from the outset, the B3W initiative is designed to address these issues with transparent practices and a “values-driven” approach.
The details of the G7 plan and the group’s determination remain to be seen. Competing with a large Chinese infrastructure program will take time, money and commitment. At the time of writing, Al Jazeera reports that more than 100 countries have signed agreements with China to cooperate in BRI projects. This includes railways, ports, highways and other infrastructure. In fact, the B3W initiative is just one of many promises that emerged from this year’s summit. The G7 has also pledged to vaccinate the world against the coronavirus, tackle climate change with a mix of technology and money, and force big corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. It is essential that the G7 countries (and their allies) do what they can to ensure that these promises are kept. While there certainly appears to be a surge of momentum for international cooperation, the past few years have shown how inconsistent this can be. Failure to keep these promises could herald the end of the liberal international order that has prevailed since the end of World War II.